MISPLACED, NOT LOST

I sat here last night. Pondering the differences between this computer which runs Windows 7 Professional and all my other computers which run Windows 7 Home Premium. That was the precise moment I realized I had not the slightest idea where I’d put the system disks for this computer.

It was alarming. I next realized I’d no idea where I put the system disk for the version of Windows 7 installed the other laptop and was a bit hazy on where to locate disks for any of computer.

side view alienware closeup computer

I have every version of Quicken I ever bought — a lot of Quickens — but I no longer use Quicken. I do know where I keep my DVDs for Photoshop which is good because Adobe only sells their products online these days. I found more than half a dozen versions of Scrabble, but none will run on this system.

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Sometime around midnight, I went into a frenzy of searching for the system disks for this computer because I doubt they are replaceable. Garry found them. Sitting, half-buried, on the keyboard of the electric organ. Which no one plays because it doesn’t work.

So many computers have come and gone, I have system software for computers that left my possession years ago. I’m not sure what “Garry’s 14Z” means, because at some point, his 14Z was reloaded and I gave him my 14z. After repair, what had been his 14Z became my “spare laptop,” the one I use to listen to audiobooks as I fall asleep and that was replaced by a big Kindle. So what, exactly, does “Garry’s 14Z” mean? Anything?

my office and desktop computer

I have every version of old software I ever used. Manuals too. Empty boxes for each camera I bought. A lot of cameras. A lot of boxes. Empty Kindle boxes back to the first keyboard Kindle I owned.

I finally dumped the boxes of floppy disks which I have no way to read. I’ve kept CDs of documents and photos going back more than a decade, even though I have the same stuff on external hard drives. Who knows how long before CDs can’t be read anymore? I haven’t tried to read them in a long time, so I don’t know if even now the data is usable. Much of technology is faith-based.

Everything is “somewhere.” Nothing is lost. It’s just … misplaced. Sometimes permanently.

Misplaced

A NEW LOOK FOR SERENDIPITY

I have changed the look of Serendipity. Again. I am pretty sure I’ve gone through at least a dozen templates since I started blogging more than four years ago.

Why? Because I’ve had a series of issues for the last three or four months. Some minor ones, others not so minor. All of them required intervention which, to WordPress’s credit, they have worked through and fixed.

I am convinced at least some of them are glitches connected to the Wilson theme I have been using. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a template “go sour.”  I have a theory about this. I cannot prove it, but I believe it’s true.

UNTITLED

WordPress is forever messing around with their software. These changes affect not only what they intend, but have many unintended “side effects.” Like the way the new software affects individual template functions. They don’t do much (any?) beta testing. Like so many other big software companies, they make changes, throw the new version out to customers and let us find the problems for them.

I hate this casual attitude toward properly testing software. I resent it as do most serious technology users. But apparently testing new versions of software is not included in the development budget. Plenty of money to develop and not one cent for testing. Aggravating.

So, after I’ve been using a theme for a few months, glitches start appearing. It’s like playing Whack-a-Mole. You smack one problem down, another pops up. You whack that one over the head and out of the game, and three more spring from holes in the ground.

After a while, you figure “Okay, time to change games.” Or, in this case, templates.

This theme is “Untitled” and it displays pictures well and large. I’m not sure I like the way it handles text, but I will give it a chance. There are a lot of templates. I haven’t tried all of them. Yet.

TECHNOLOGY AS TRASH

computer gargoyle

In 2013, the computer industry declared me obsolete. Irrelevant. Anyone who can’t or won’t afford software subscriptions to “keep up to date,” is in trouble. Adobe stopped selling DVDs of their product and other companies are following suit though not as quickly expected. There’s been quite a bit of push back from folks like me.

alienware side view computer

Personally, I don’t mind running a version or two behind the latest thing. Especially since many new versions don’t work better — or even as well — as those I own. I can easily go years without “updating” my software. I guess software companies don’t make enough money selling new releases to folks like me.

Aside from the problem I have with adding an ongoing expense to my already tight budget, I prefer owning my software. I don’t like being entirely dependent on my WiFi connection.

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I remember getting a “You’ve Been Hacked!” letter from Adobe. The hack affected (depending on who you believed) between 38 and 150 million people. All of us have had our personal information stolen somewhere or other. Not only by Adobe. My bank got hacked. So did Walmart, Land’s End, and our local grocery store.

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At least our grocery doesn’t collect personal information from customers. It’s one of the few companies that doesn’t. In case you don’t already know this, the discount cards in your wallet are how the places at which you shop collect information about your personal shopping habits. So they can sell your data to marketing companies — the people who harass you with emails, phone calls, and junk mail. And scams.

Where’s our outrage, our demands for better service and security?

When my equipment stops working — which is once in a blue moon — I call the “Guy Who Fixes PCs.” He comes to the house.  Replaces the broken bits. Cleans out any viruses that have snuck past the anti-virus software. I give him money. He gives me a card with his cell number so if the problems comes back, he’ll come back and fix’em.

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Am I the only one who is in no position to dump equipment and replace it? I’m still in debt for the stuff I have. Moreover, I hate the throwaway society we are building and the mindset that comes with it.

Disposable is not a better way. It’s destroying the environment. Polluting landfills. Making an already profligate society ever more wasteful. We talk about green, but we don’t live green.

Once upon a time, Garry and I were working a ridiculous number of hours and started using paper plates. To avoid washing dishes. After doing this for a while, I found myself washing paper plates. I couldn’t bear throwing them out. It seemed wrong. I rediscovered the concept of re-usability. I had dishes in the cupboard. I could use them, wash them — and use them again! It was an epiphany!

Photoshop

We are turning into a world of paper plate users. Everything, from cars to computers to kitchen appliances are junk. When whatever it is stops running, toss it. Don’t even think about fixing it. Change your cell phone every six months. Toss the old one.

Somewhere on this planet, there is a giant, bottomless hole into which the garbage goes and it will never fill up, right?

Not.

LIFE WITHOUT COMPUTERS? WHAT LIFE?

Daily Prompt – Life After Blogs:

Your life without a computer: what does it look like?


It looks like I’m dead.

Yeats in Sligo

Yeats in Sligo

Buried too. It’s not just the blogging. The computer is communication, photography processing, writing (for any reason), paying bills, shopping, entertainment.

So life without computers is not life. Ergo ipso, I must be dead.

IT WAS A FINE AFFAIR, BUT NOW IT’S OVER …

Four hours after I finished installing Windows 10, I restored Windows 7 Professional. Why, you ask? How fair an assessment of the operating system could I make in only four hours?

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Well, for a start, the boot time on Windows 10 is a return to the bad old days. Remember when you could turn on the computer, make dinner, eat dinner, wash the dishes… and when you got back, maybe your system would be ready to go? It’s that bad.

I’m not talking about a little bit slower. I mean a solid five-minute plus boot time.

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There are lots of bells and whistles on Windows 10. I deleted as many of them as I could, but I couldn’t get rid of nearly enough. This is supposed to be a professional system, yet its loaded down with music, movies, TV, games, more games, travel sites. Everything is entertainment-oriented. Nothing useful for work. Nothing.

We all use our systems differently, but there’s a reason I have had the professional versions of Windows.

Microsoft still hasn’t recovered from their belief that every computer should contain a party that never ends. Assuming a party is what I want, I’m entirely capable of finding it. I hate bloatware and Windows 10 it full of it.

The one thing in the package of ‘goodies’ I liked was the Solitaire Pack. I miss solitaire, but I can live without it. All the other crap? The addition of Xbox does not compensate for the loss of “preview” in the right-click pictures context menu. I don’t need special tiles for television, movie, news, maps, weather and the Microsoft store. I can easily make my own links to those sites in whatever browser I use.

Maybe all this crap is why the system is so abominably slow to boot?

As usual, they’ve scrambled the menus. Typical of software designers, if they can’t make something better, they can at least make stuff you need hard to find. I had to go hunting for the power controls (Restart, Shut Down, Hibernate, Sleep, etc.) and the Control Panel. They moved the Startup controller to the Task Manager which was merely annoying. What was wrong with where it had been for the past 20 years?

The Windows 10 audio controls are even less intuitive than they are in Windows 7. Some of them are — far as I can tell — missing. Maybe they’ve moved them elsewhere too.

Good things? Yes, a few. It’s a huge improvement over Windows 8. If I had Win 8 on my computer, I’d be thrilled with Windows 10.

My Adobe applications open and load faster in Windows 10, and the WiFi connection seems more stable. The task bar icons are nice and streamlined. I don’t know that they’re better, but they are different.

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Windows 10

I started installing Windows 10 at 10:30 am. I finished at 3:10 pm. Just short of five hours including errors, restarts, and many reboots. Although 99 % of the installation is automatic, the other 1% is critical. Had I not been there, the installation would have crashed and burned, likely leaving me without a working operating system.

It took just 15 minutes to restore Windows 7 Professional. No one can say I didn’t give it a try.

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Windows 7 Professional

The deal-breaker was the extremely slow boot time. It was this slow with an empty startup file and after deleting as much bloatware as I could. If they had less junk on the system, it would probably move faster. It couldn’t move much slower.

I am pretty sure it would have run well enough after booting, but I do not like the hybrid “Start Menu.” It has pieces of the classic Start Menu, plus those hateful tiles they couldn’t give away in Windows 8. What makes Microsoft think something I hated in Windows 8 would be more lovable in Windows 10?

Although the version of Windows 10 I installed was officially the professional version, my best guess is that it’s identical to the “Home” edition.

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Will I try it again? Not soon. Maybe if they assure me they’ve dealt with the problems by first acknowledging there are problems. I’m sure there’s an up side to Windows 10 (especially if you are coming from Windows 8), but for me, it doesn’t outweigh the bloatware and slow boot time.

INSTALLING WINDOWS 10 – FINALLY

I won’t be dropping by to read your posts today and for this, I apologize. But I’ve got a great excuse.

It is the first day of November and autumn is fading into winter. Taking courage in hand … setting aside a whole bundle of concerns about how this upgrade would affect this computer … I upgraded my laptop for which I still owe a ton of money … to Windows 10.

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To say this wasn’t an action taken lightly would be a massive understatement. I waited until I could get testimony from people I know and trust that they had done it. That their computers were still working weeks or months after installation. That they hadn’t lost their applications or data. And most of all, that they were pleased with how it worked compared to Windows 7.

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It turned out to be as scary as I expected. It errored out during the download. Eventually, I deduced the problem was I had to set “Windows Updates” to allow automatic installation. I changed the setting, after which the download picked up where it had left off.

A bigger scare occurred during the actual install. It stopped, announced a fatal error because it had encountered my video board. This was one of the things I was most afraid would happen. I have some highly specialized hardware and associated software in this machine. But, surprise! It rebooted, apparently found whatever it needed, then continued.

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All of this took considerable time, but I knew this was going to be a lost day anyhow.

Finally, when it had downloaded and completed it’s “preparation,” it got lost, couldn’t find the computer’s identifier. I think it was actually having trouble connecting with the router.

Finding the connection has — especially recently — been a frequent problem. Charter Communication’s WiFi is unstable. Not to mention the company is doing a lot of work on the poles and wires all along our road, from here into Rhode Island.

Then, after it rebooted a couple of times, but couldn’t get itself organized, I turned it off and rebooted it cold. After that, it found the WiFi and successfully identified the machine.

So far as I can tell — about 10 minutes after completing the installation — it looks okay. All my applications seem to be where they ought to be, though I have not checked to see if they are actually working.

I started this installation this morning at around 10:30. It finished at 3 in the afternoon. Four and a half hours. I had to be here to monitor it and make sure I didn’t need to answer a question — there were four or five questions to be answered along the way. It’s almost entirely automatic … but not quite.

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Questions pop up and if there are any problems — as there were with mine — you need to be there to tell the computer to try again, to reboot, or whatever. Otherwise, I think you might wind up with some serious problems of incomplete or corrupted installation of the operating system.

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How is it going to work? I don’t really know yet. Will I like it? I guess I’ll find out. Am I glad I did it? I don’t know that yet either. I’m glad I’m done sitting here and monitoring the process. Talk about watching paint dry.

You will please forgive me if I don’t go and read everyone’s blogs today. It’s late, I’m tired. Tomorrow is another day. I’ve got my fingers crossed that when I got to turn this machine on tomorrow, it is still alive and kicking!

PHONES AND ‘PUTERS: CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE

We aren’t big on phones around here. We have a VOIP “landline” and a cell phone which I usually forget to turn on. But computers? We got them. And cameras. Lots of cameras.

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Kindle and iPad

plugs roku and headphones

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alienware side view computer

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Most real communication is done via email. Electronic, non-voice. Oh, and Garry has a special caption phone, but since he hates telephones on principle, it doesn’t get much use.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Phones and Computers